Cyber-Farmer Boy

In a prior lifetime I expected that my carreer would revolve around agricultural economics and/’or farm management in developing countries. I did a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at Purdue in the late 1970’s. For my master’s thesis I went to west Africa, where I had been in Peace Corps, and gathered data on an irrigated farm built by the World Bank and managed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations — and used the data to build a linear programming model, and an integer programming model of the farm.

The guts of the model (which I did not write) was 4,000 lines of FORTRAN IV. All my data was manually transferred onto punch cards. In summer/fall 1979 I spent about 18 hours a day refining that model. Each iteration took about 20 minutes to run on a Control Data Corporation Cyber 6000, and the results came in the form of a bunch of numbers on a 180-column form-fed print-out. I would read the numbers and imagine the farm in my head.

I thought building a farm simulator was the coolest, most fun thing — not to mention important — that one could possibly do in this world. Life takes its twists and turns, and I ended up doing other things. But I have often daydreamed that if I won the lottery I would go back to school in Agricultural Economics & try to pick up where I left off.

So it is with a certain degree of wistfulness that I include this


Check out the John Deere game.

One Comment

  1. There was also the game SimFarm (…) back in ’93, which was a follow-up to the SimCity craze. Maxis, the makers of the Sim games, had a Sim game for just about everything… SimCity, SimTower, (build an office building), SimThemePark, SimEarth (build and manage a planet) and even SimAnt (manage an ant colony. No, I’m not making that up). Of course, they moved on to make The Sims, which is the biggest selling computer game of all time, along with apporximately one bazillion enhancements.

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